Soul Man (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Soul Man
Soulmanposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Steve Miner
Produced by Donna Smith
Steve Tisch
Written by Carol Black
Starring C. Thomas Howell
Rae Dawn Chong
Arye Gross
James Earl Jones
Leslie Nielsen
Wallace Langham
Music by Tom Scott
Cinematography Jeff Jur
Editing by Dave Finfe
Studio Balcor Film Investors
The Steve Tisch Company
Distributed by New World Pictures
Release dates October 24, 1986
Running time 104 Minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $27,800,000

Soul Man is a 1986 comedy film about a man who undergoes racial transformation with pills to qualify for a black-only scholarship at Harvard Law School. The was directed by Steve Miner[1] and stars C. Thomas Howell, Rae Dawn Chong, Arye Gross, James Earl Jones, Leslie Nielsen, James B. Sikking and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.[1]

The title refers to the Sam and Dave song "Soul Man". The original soundtrack includes a version performed by Sam Moore and Lou Reed.

Plot[edit]

The movie's protagonist is Mark Watson (Howell), the pampered son from a rich family who is about to attend Harvard Law School along with his best friend Gordon (Gross). Unfortunately, his father's neurotic psychiatrist talks his patient into having more fun for himself instead of spending money on his son. Faced with the horrifying prospect of having to pay for law school by himself, Mark decides to take up a scholarship, but the only suitable one is for African Americans only. So he decides to cheat by using tanning pills in a larger dose than prescribed to appear as an African American. Watson then sets out for Harvard, naïvely believing that blacks have no problems at all in American society.

However, once immersed in a black student's life, Mark finds that people are less lenient than he imagined and more prone to see him as a black person instead of a fellow student. He meets a young African-American student named Sarah Walker (Chong), whom he first only flirts with; gradually, however, he genuinely falls in love with her. As it turns out, she was the original candidate for the scholarship which he had usurped, and now she has to work hard as a waitress to support herself and her son George while studying. Slowly, Mark begins to regret his deed, and after a chaotic day—in which Sarah, his parents (who are not aware of his double life) and his classmate Whitney (Melora Hardin), who is also his landlord's daughter, drop in for surprise visits at the same time—he drops the charade and openly reveals himself to be white.

The film ends with Mark declaring to his professor (Jones) that he wishes to pay back the scholarship and do charity work to make amends for his fraud, and Sarah decides to give him another chance.

Reception and controversy[edit]

The film was widely criticised for featuring a Caucasian actor wearing makeup intended to make him appear to be African or African-American, a choice that some viewers found reminiscent of blackface.[2] When the film was released, some protests took place within the black community.[3] In 2008, New York Press's contrarian critic Armond White would cite the movie as predicting the rise of Barack Obama, who entered the real-life Harvard Law School in 1988, and White declared that Soul Man was "easily the best movie ever set at Harvard."[4]

Controversy aside, the film was panned by critics. It has a score of only 14% on Rotten Tomatoes.[5]

Box office[edit]

Despite the controversy the movie was a box office success.[6]

Influence[edit]

Defunct mathcore band Botch has a track named "C. Thomas Howell as the 'Soul Man'" on their release, We Are the Romans.[citation needed]

DVD Releases[edit]

Soul Man was released for the first time on DVD in March 19, 2002 by Anchor Bay Entertainment.Special Features included a theatrical and teaser trailer along with an audio commentary by director Steve Miner and C.Thomas Howell.[7]

It was released again by Anchor Bay Entertainment as a double feature along with Fraternity Vacation on November 20, 2007.

On October 20, 2011 it was released again as a double feature by Image Entertainment along with 18 Again!.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (October 24, 1986). "Soul Man (1986) SCREEN: A COMEDY 'SOUL MAN'". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Soul Man' Just Goes To Show Discrimination Isn't Funny". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-11-12. 
  3. ^ "NAACP, Black Students Protest Film `Soul Man". The Los Angeles Times. October 1986. Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  4. ^ "Our Soul Man". New York Press. October 2008. 
  5. ^ Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ "Reagans on 'Soul Man': Thumbs Up". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-12. 
  7. ^ "Soul Man". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2012-05-18. 

External links[edit]